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Masthead Local Govt - Community Safety

Claimant nets permission for judicial review of police station closures in London

Police photo iStockphoto standard 146x219A robbery victim has been granted permission to bring a judicial review challenge over the Mayor’s Office for Police and Crime's (MOPAC's) plans to close 37 of the 73 police stations across London.

The challenge brought by Paul Kohler, a legal academic based at SOAS University in London, will be heard by the High Court in June.

Law firm Leigh Day, which is acting for the claimant, argued that the original public consultation and consequent decision were legally flawed and unlawful as:

  • Insufficient information was provided to Londoners during the consultation. “For example, alternative solutions to the closure of the stations were rejected on the basis that they did not generate enough money, despite consultees not being given any indication as to the cost saving criteria they were required to fulfil, nor any financial information by which they might sensibly address that question”;
  • The Mayor of London failed to give proper consideration to the responses he received from consultees across the various boroughs.

Mr Kohler was the victim of a violent attack in his home in Wimbledon in 2014. Leigh Day said he firmly believes he only survived because police officers were able to get to his house from the local station in Wimbledon - one of the stations due to close - within eight minutes of the 999 call made by his daughter, who heard the attack taking place from the bedroom where she was hiding.

The claimant is raising funds to support his legal challenge through the Save London's Police Stations Crowdjustice page. This has raised more than £10,000 towards its stretch target of £15,000.

Leigh Day solicitor Tessa Gregory, who represents Mr Kohler, said: "A decision which potentially impacts the lives of every person living and working in the capital should be thoroughly considered, including a widespread and effective public consultation with the millions of people affected.

"Our client believes the public consultation was inadequate and unlawful. In the interests of all Londoners he is pleased that a judge will now consider the legality of the original decision and hopes that in the fullness of time a more considered and thoughtful approach, which keeps the streets of the capital safe, can be found."

In January this year Havering Council announced plans for a judicial review challenge against MOPAC and the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service over a decision to close police buildings.

MOPAC carried out a consultation last year on the closure of both Hornchurch and Rainham police stations, along with all Safer Neighbourhood bases (apart from Elm Park), and reached a decision to close these sites.

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